Just felt a bit darker, leaden and heavy handed in track selection and mixing. Never enjoyed this mix very much, more endured it - a progressive trance compilation that lacks the variety of the sublime Renaissance volume one and N E. Never felt any urgency to track down any of the tunes either. It just didn’t work for me. Remember being disappointed and I don’t think it’s aged that well. Thankfully Sasha’s global underground 013 was a return to form.
Agreed with the reviewer below. This may forgoe the "arctic chill out" theme of NE1 that was also somewhat present on NE2, but in return you get a mix with a lot of variety and highlights. I think the fact that some tracks on this date as far back as 1993-1995 really goes to show what kind of ear they had for what still worked to a 1999 audience, despite the tracks being a few years old at that point. This is a trance mix, through and through. Some may not like it for it's inclusion of tracks like Silence (before it became an established anthem), but I really find myself enjoying pretty much every track on this mix. This is certainly not as thematically consistent as NE1, and may seem "dated" to some people, but I think others will see it as a tour de force of late 90s progressive trance. Oakenfold and Tiesto could only dream of making mixes this good.
Yeah for me this is very weak for Sasha & JD but you have to put it in perspective. It's from 1999 and trance was the sound of the future. Their sound has always had a hypnotic, trancey vibe to it I find this too much. Apart from Belfunk by Sasha and the Enjoy the slience cover I can't even listen to the rest of it, it grates on me. Of it's time but let's be honest, dance music was back then, huge trancey hands in the air riffs and apart from a few standout tracks that have gone on to become classics, most of it was crap and throwaway. It's deposibility was part of it's attraction. Compared to their other work this sounds lazy, rushed and of it's time, not classic, not timeless.
Whereas the previous two installations represent peaks of progressive mix history, this Northern Exposure hits a substantially flatter note. Mixed in '99, the track selection arguably suffered from the burgeoning popularity of progressive; plenty of the choices are, in retrospect, cheesy and dated. On CD1, this is particularly evident in 'Silence', whereas in CD2 with 'The Silence' (coincidental nomenclature, no?) - the latter of which has aged better, but nevertheless diminishes, as Tekara's remix is overly busy for what ought to be an elegant trance track. That being said, the highs in both mixes are significantly so, and thus Expeditions is worth a listen (and repeat listening).
CD1 starts off in a classically-Sasha manner; excellent and atmospheric. Actually, the intro, between the first two tracks, is quite arguably Sasha's strongest intro ever. The Kingdom Come mix of 'Tyrantanic', while a banger in its time and still enjoyable, borders on obnoxious and tiring after repeat listens, as experienced in the duo's Communicate mix-CD. The Underexposed mix, however, is a brilliant choice and is only made more brilliant with its excellent mixing and transition with the Stage One medley. Funnily, both the more-oft-played versions of these two tracks were extremely popular in their heyday, but these stripped-down versions have aged for the better, and showcase how Expeditions doesn't completely suffer from its crowd-pandering. At any rate, these two tracks offer a sonic journey through space opera, and are easily the best part of either CD.
Unfortunately for CD1, that's about all that's worth listening to. While Union Jack is one of my favorite producers from the 90's, 'Morning Glory' is an odd choice transitioning out of the intro, and its not a particularly memorable track. The mix picks up minor degrees in 'Expand The Room', but it's not strong enough, and the mix is already knee-deep in monotony, such that it gets lost in the soundscape. 'Belfunk' is an excellent production of Sasha's, but the tempo/BPM increase gives the track a tinny, unpleasant timbre and makes the track feel rushed, thereby ruining the experience. After that, it's the aforementioned dated 'Silence' accompanied by a list of forgettable tracks.
Diggers kicks off CD2 with the memorable and fabled 'Waters of Jericho' - yes, it's pretty much impossible to find this track anywhere else in its original incarnation, and that's unfortunate. Unlike Sasha, Digweed's intro doesn't taper into doldrums, cruising on a decently-pleasant ride with 'Sexuel Mouvement' and 'Seaside Atmosphere'. 'Pure (Frictions Groove)' is a massive tune that could still fill a floor today. That alongside 'Mess With Da Bull' represent the highlights of CD2. 'Mess With Da Bull' is similarly a banging track - shame that it, as an LP-only release, is also so difficult to hunt down. This transitions into Oliver Lieb's remix of 'Love Stimulation'. The Paul van Dyk remix is, depending on my mood, my favorite trance track of all time, but the Oliver Lieb version is also a great listen, and it fits more consistently with Digger's typical darker theme. The tail-end of CD2 is then forgettable, regrettably.
In short, CD1 has a superb high in its intro, but takes an immediate turn for the worse thereafter. CD2 is more consistent, with an overall stronger track selection, but Sasha and Digweed have spun far better both together and individually.
It's somewhat tough to rate this compilation, because there is a lot of mediocrity in the music, punctuated by great moments. If you were to skip tracks and listen to the highlights, I would probably rate the album around a 4.4-star mark. In its entirety, as it is:
Expeditions is arguably the weakest of the Northern Exposures, if only because it is (for the most part) a fairly standard mixture of up-front progressive from the period, whereas the previous NE mixes were an attempt to play an eclectic selection of music in more of an after-party context. With that said it's still an extremely strong and very trancey mix from the duo, with the opening of Tyrantanic melting into Stage One being a high-point of the whole series.
The omission of Fade's remix of Silence on some editions is a point of debate. On the one hand, Silence has become such an overplayed track it feels incongruous in this context, but on the other hand Fade's remix is unquestionably the best version, and without it the first disc's structure is compromised, the mid-section devoid of that big moment that brings the rest of the programming sharply into focus.
Perhaps most surprising of all is that down all the years, with all the hawk-eyed Discogs contributors and Sasha and Digweed fanatics who pass through this corner of the Internet every day, nobody before me has noticed that the version of Blue Planet Corporation's Micromega is actually the Choo Choo Remix. Now that really is INCredible.
Years later this remains my all time favourite mixed set. It is everything this music should be: feeling like space travel, with high energy and subtle glory. The vocal tracks have always helped to set it apart. I've never found another mix like it. Many fine memories of cruising around Los Angeles nights, often back from a gig, with this CD playing on the stereo.
Looking back, this album is actually brilliant. You do not find sheer class like this anymore. The first disc is a brave, and refreshing venture from the traditional NE direction. The second, a truly exceptional, timeless piece of mixing.
Looking back, people will regard this more and more as an omnipotent classic as time goes on.
What a shame that this album was not released as a single cd, that being only cd 2! This cd is very solidly mixed with a constant drive & it has one of my alltime favorite tracks on it: Polarstern. Towards the end a bit trancey, but mostly deep progressive.
The first cd on the other hand is the type of trance cr*p that the likes of Tiesto seem to be throwing out at a rate of 10 cd's a day; useless, boring & lacking in originality. Really start to wander who mixed what & more, who chose what tracks.....